Thursday, August 11, 2011

Hatred Doesn't Help

OK, as a disclaimer: this is not another sappy appeal to for compassion and tolerance with respect to the polarized differences between right and left in America.  In fact, it seems for all these messages of tolerance I hear in the media, there is none.  While preaching "tolerance" of differing viewpoints, for instance, it's pretty obvious the left is utterly intolerant of anyone who doesn't agree with them.

Still, there is no benefit to fighting back using their methods.

Do y'all remember when W. was in office?  Made those of us who voted for him c-r-a-z-y when the media painted him as lacking logic, common sense, and intelligence.  Oh man, did they like to accuse him of being either exceedingly stupid or utterly devoid of conscience.  It was disrespectful and utterly spiteful.  But we said, "they're liberals - what do you expect?"

And yet ... here we are acting in the exact same immature manner.  I daresay, downright hypocritical.

Look, I'm not one to suggest we keep quiet.  As saints, we have a responsibility to God to represent Him and His values (as dictated in Scripture) to the world and our nation.  As citizens of a democratic republic, we have a responsibility to voice what we believe should be standards of our country; to elect representatives who support those values, and to vote for those values when the opportunity presents itself.

And we should be utterly unashamed to represent said unpopular values.  Even if it means being torn apart by lions.

However ... this by no means allows for conduct that can not be pleasing to Y'shua.  He expressly told us, "Seek first the Kingdom of God, and His Righteousness" (Matthew 6:33).  When challenged by the Sanhedrin about submission to corrupt ruling authorities, he responded calmly, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's" (Matthew 22:21).  Not once did you hear him (or Paul, for that matter, who was a Roman citizen) criticize the emperor or senate.  Solomon goes to great pains to repeatedly warn us against foolish words and quick-tempered actions.  We would all be wise to consider these things before we speak.

Instead, perhaps we should ask ourselves, what does an ambassador of Christ look like?  What does it mean to seek first His Kingdom? 
Ambassadors are generally fairly uncompromising.  Their heavy responsibility is to represent their Lord to a foreign culture.  They adhere strictly to their own customs in a foreign land, and discuss them freely and openly with the locals.  They understand their culture completely and intimately; and have a complete understanding of the differences between their own culture and that of the nation where they preside.  They are always prepared to answer hard questions.  They are unashamed of who and what they are.  But you won't find them ridiculing the ways of the land.  It would, at the very least, be unproductive.

We as followers of Y'shua are caught between two worlds.  We are, on the one hand, "strangers in a strange land".  On the other, we are citizens and patriots of this great nation.  So what are we do.

Speak in love.  This is not sugar-coated "nicey-nice" false love, but everything that is encompassed by unconditional love.  There is no room for spite or foolishness in our talk.  It includes a broad range of compassion, mercy, and "tough love."  Consider carefully the words of Jude (vs. 22-23): "And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering.  Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives."

For me, this means picking my battles.  I see no benefit in attacking every little character flaw observed in our nation's leaders - such behavior does not represent the character of Christ well.  It does, however, emphasize our responsibility to remain uncompromising in the values of our faith; to consider carefully the words we use to defend it; and the broken spirits of those people who too often appear to be our enemies.

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